Immune System Support during the global health crisis
Emma Povey - Naturopath, Herbalist, Nutritionist
Many of you may be wondering how best to boost your immune system during this global health crisis. With the winter months drawing near there are the additional challenges to immunity such as seasonal colds and flu. Whilst it's understandable to feel vulnerable during this time, the good news is that there are many beneficial ways that we can all ensure that we are able to maintain optimal health throughout the coming months . Let's look at what you can do to ensure that your immune system is as strong and robust as possible.
I have presented an extensive list of ways to enhance immunity below. I encourage my clients to include most of these suggestions for optimal health, however, any suggestions you take on board will be of benefit to your health and a step towards greater immunity.
Key Nutrients and Herbs
● Vitamin C - a potent immune support nutrient. Supplementation reduces duration and severity of colds and flus.
● Vitamin D - essential for immune function and inflammatory regulation.
● Zinc - our soils are very deficient in zinc so we don't often get enough of this essential nutrient in our foods and it is vital for a strong immune system.
● Medicinal Mushrooms - eg Reishi, Shiitake, Cordyceps, Turkey Tail, Coriolus. These gifts of nature enhance our body's immune response and provide antiviral actions.
● Andrographis - known as the ‘king of bitters’ this powerful herb has potent anti-viral properties and reduces the incidence and severity of acute respiratory infections.
● Echinacea - a well known favourite that stimulates immune function and enhances our bodies ability to fight infections.
● Probiotics - 80% of our immune function is based in the gut so it's essential we have a good healthy gut microbiome to have a healthy immune system. Lactobacillus species specifically influence immune regulation.
● Ensure plenty of fresh vegetables, salads and fresh fruit. Try and eat as many colours of the rainbow as possible. The more diverse your diet is with plant foods the more diverse your gut microbiome will be and the better your health.
● Ensure adequate proteins, these provide the essential amino acids we need for cellular repair and growth and for a healthy functioning immune system. Complete proteins come from your animal sources eg eggs, fish, chicken, meat and dairy (if tolerated). Incomplete proteins come from your plant sources so you need to combine these together to equal a complete protein eg Nuts + Grains, Nuts + Seeds, Nuts + Legumes, Grains + Legumes
● Eat foods rich in Vitamin C eg kiwi, red capsicum, parsley, berries, oranges, lemons, broccoli, acai, rose hips, kale, Brussel sprouts
● Eat foods rich in Vitamin A eg sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots, dark green leafies eg spinach, mango, papaya, organic liver, eggs
● Eat foods rich in Vitamin D eg salmon ( esp crushed bones if tinned), sardines, dairy ( if tolerated), eggs, cod liver oil
● Eat foods rich in Zinc eg red meat, pumpkin seeds, tofu, legumes,nuts, seeds, eggs
● Eat Medicinal Mushrooms eg shiitake, reishi
● Add medicinal herbs and spices to your cooking eg onions, garlic, turmeric, ginger, oregano, thyme, rosemary
● Keep your body alkalised with lots of vegetables, green smoothies and superfoods like Green Barley Grass.
● Slow Cooked Bone Broth is rich in nutrients and wonderful for boosting your immune system. With the cooler weather coming, enjoy lots of delicious nourishing soups.
● Avoid pro- inflammatory foods eg white sugar, processed food, junk food, wheat, hydrogenated oils, fried food, coffee, alcohol
● Drink filtered water only, avoid tap water and bottled water
● Reducing emotional and psychological stress improves our immunity so it's vital we find ways to relax during these stressful times. Consider meditation, soothing music, spending time in nature, having an Epsom salts bath or enjoying a creative outlet like painting, writing, sewing, woodwork etc.
● Reduce your screen time. Turn off your phone and other devices and take time out.
● Emergency Essence - this is a remedy in the Australian Bush Flower Range that is excellent for any emotional upset. It is very calming during a crisis and helps keep you grounded and balanced.
● Magnesium is another mineral that is deficient in our soils so we often find it hard to get adequate amounts in our food. Supplementation helps the body and nervous system to relax and is wonderful for reducing anxiety.
● B Vitamins are also very supportive for the nervous system during times of increased stress.
● Relaxing Herbs - we have a plethora of wonderfully relaxing herbs we can drink as teas or take as concentrated extracts eg Chamomile, Lemonbalm, Passionflower, Lavender, Verbena, Skullcap
● Essential Oils are also very beneficial during times of stress eg Lavender, Bergamot, Rose, Ylang Ylang, Vetiver, Sandalwood, Frankincense
● Exercise is essential to ensure mental wellbeing, immune function, cardio health and general wellbeing. Ensure you get out and about everyday with a combination of cardio exercise and stretching. Given the current restrictions check out the numerous online options for Yoga /Pilates/Cardio workouts at home.
● Research has shown that ‘forest bathing’ or spending time in nature increases the production of our Natural Killer Cells thus boosting our immunity. Ideally exercise in a natural environment. Take a walk on the beach or in the bush or even around your local park.
● Make sure you stay up to date and follow the latest government directives on exercising outside during this health crisis.
Good Quality Sleep
● Poor quality sleep has been linked with a reduced immune function so it's really important we get regular good quality sleep. It's helpful to have regular sleeping patterns and to get at least 8 hrs sleep per night.
● Avoid screen time for 2 hours prior to going to bed.
● Avoid caffeine, especially after midday
● Avoid large meals at night and preferably eat 3 hours prior to sleeping
● Soft lighting in the evening helps induce sleep.
● Meditation and/or soothing music is very useful for relaxing the body prior to sleep.
● Use relaxing herbs and nutrients to assist with the relaxation process, see above.
For further information please visit my website www.emmapoveynaturopath.com
I am currently available for Phone and Skype consultations only - if interested please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text 0488 218 607 to arrange a suitable time.
Wishing you the very best of health and wellness.